In 1998, even before becoming pregnant was ever a thought in my mind, my husband and I had a discussion about raising our "hypothetical future children" as Jews. He had (has) three older children from a previous marriage and in the event that we ever had kids together, we did not want them to be raised any differently. And given the fact, that I always loved Judaism and its teachings, principles and way of life, I had absolutely NO problem giving up my Catholic upbringing. I was excited at the thought.
Fiddler on the Roof.
Fast-forward to the year 2015, where my 12-year old is currently in summer camp. This week they have a holiday dress-up day, where they can choose absolutely any holiday they want, religious or otherwise, and my daughter wanted to choose "Hanukkah," her favorite holiday. Instead of it being a fun experience, it has become a religious argument among her friends, well, mainly one friend, who apparently has not been taught tolerance and acceptance of others. She is being told that she is only 50% , that she is not really "Jewish." (Note: A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism.”) My daughter, quickly defended herself and proceed to explain how she has never celebrated a Christian holiday and how our family has always celebrated Hanukkah, Passover etc...
Now, I am not an ignorant person, I am aware of the Jewish law, that if a mother is not Jewish by birth, then the child is not recognized as such. However, with that being said, I made a conscious decision 13 years ago to become "Jewish-by-choice," and raise my children as "Jews," send them to Hebrew School and celebrate every Hanukkah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and observe Yom Kippur, having namings, Brit Millah (bris,) conversions etc... Not just because I married a Jewish man, but because I whole-heartedly believe in the Jewish way of life. Hell, I know more about Judaism, its holidays and traditions than most "real" Jews.
I read somewhere that "Jewishness is passed down by the mother because being Jewish is a
spiritual identity, it defines our very being. And our very being we get
from our mother, both in body and in soul." Now you tell me, if I identify, respect and practice Judaism with my very soul, what do you think I am teaching my children?
Albert Einstein, in a Universal Intelligence, along with a little bit of theories from different religions. I always tell my kids, that the reality is, religion was made up my man! If people really practiced their religion, practiced what they preach,they would know that it is suppose to teach us love, compassion and tolerance for others. It does not matter what religion you practice (unless of course, you are a damn terrorists!) they all believe in one Universal Being, they just choose to have different names and different versions of "their truths (G-d, Lord, Allah, Buddah, Tao etc...)
One of the many reasons I hated my religious upbringing was the perfect example of the "Sunday church-goer," who would praise the Lord, preach love for all and then get to the parking lot and cut you off with his/her car or the individual who would "sin" like crazy, meaning, acting like A-hole all week, then go into confession with some random guy wearing a white collar and then all would be mysteriously forgiven. Really? This is what life is about?
No! In my opinion, it is not. Life should be about living to the fullest, learning and growing, showing compassion, love and empathy towards people, making a difference for the better in the world. This is what I am trying to teach my children.
It doesn't matter what religion you practice, but do NOT come tell me or my children that we are not real, that we are only 50%. I rather have half of us than 100% of the hypocritical religious fanatics out there who wouldn't give you a helping hand if you needed one.
So that brings me to the origins of my rant. Why would my child's "friend" make her feel any less of a person, because of her upbringing, religious background or otherwise? What has that child been taught? Certainly not tolerance or acceptance! This is why I "hate" religion, because people are not true to what they preach or claim to believe. And I also must say, I try to teach my kids to not use the words "hate," and I debated whether to use it here or not. Do not misinterpret this as a hate for anybody, or anything, it is just my way of expressing my absolute dislike for an institution/theory that is complete bulls*%**, in my eyes! I do believe that it is a positive thing to give your children some kind of religious or spiritual background, but you have to teach them, what it truly means. You have to teach them to love and be kind to people, no matter what.
Despite, my ranting on the reasons why I "hate" religion, at the conclusion of my writing, my daughter ended up dressing up for St. Patrick's Day. Go figure.